a case for imperfection

“Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful.”   Author unknown

I keep thinking about this statement and all the applications in my life….

The three grain bread I made today isn’t rounded on the top – but it smells good and it tastes delicious, certainly better than any bread I can buy a grocery store.

My body – same thing. My curves are curvier than they were last year. My feet seem to ache more than they did a couple of years ago. But I love that my eyes can see the exquisite beauty of this late summer afternoon, my ears take in the twitter of the birds in our trees and the voice of the breeze in the trees calms me.  My happy feet and legs make my walks along the river possible. The wonders of my body make my life richer despite my graying hair and the lines on my forehead.

My relationships bear this maxim out as well. I have been married to the same tall, creative, determined lovely man for over 40 years. Our marriage has weathered its fair share of storms but I still can’t wait to see him when we’ve been apart for a few days.

I mean, what would our worlds be like if all was perfect???? I believe the imperfections are the guideposts for new lessons and growth –the kinds of things that make us want to get up in the morning.

I’ll take the wonderful and learn from the imperfections. Life is good this way.

The Long Defeat

I just finished reading Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder. It is the story of an anthropologist and physician, Paul Farmer, who works relentlessly for better health care and population health in underdeveloped countries.

Towards the end of the book Kidder asks Farmer a question that he has asked before. Basically, why he continues to fight for what sometimes looks like a losing cause.

Farmer says, “I have fought for my whole life a long defeat…… I have fought the long defeat and brought other people on to fight the long defeat, and I’m not going to stop because we keep losing. Now I actually think sometimes we may win. I don’t dislike victory……

You know people from our background – like you, … like me – we’re used to being on a victory team, actually what we’re really trying do in PIH (Partners in Health) is to make common cause with the losers. Those are two very different things. We want to be on the winning team, but at the risk of turning our backs on the losers, no, it’s not worth it. So you fight the long defeat.”

A couple of weeks ago I was having a conversation with a new colleague about my decision to remain in health care. I admit, I thought it would feel better if I was doing something creative and fun, something that could produce joy and fulfillment. I was disenchanted with health care because I felt the needle wasn’t moving. I thought we were just t spinning our wheels.

I see that I wanted to see a victory, to know that our work was making an impact. But I understand that I was being led to stay in the health care fray because I know it well and I am using my talents to contribute to an agenda that may not produce significant results in my lifetime.

Paul Farmer has inspired me to lock arms with him and the people all over the world who are focusing on the work, the process, despite whether we are losing. I want to rid myself of the idea that victory is the ultimate goal. Rather, I want to keep believing I am still involved in health care because I want to help and I have been led to contribute in this arena even though I thought I wanted out.

And honestly, I am happy here, working hard to help improve the health of underserved Missourians. I know I am in good company in this work, and that is gratifying. I am glad to be back and fully engaged in the work, whether it is considered a ‘long defeat’ or not.

Yes, yes, yes!!!!

As some of you may remember I started an experiment at the beginning of December. I was going to try to sweep the negative thoughts out of my life and see what would happen.

Well, here I am the first week of February and I feel like my life is on fire with possibility. I feel like cleaning the closet of my mind, and continually trying to keep it uncluttered from negativity has reaped BIG rewards.

In tandem with this mind set experiment or maybe because of it, I also started a 30 day Yoga Camp with Adriene. I had “take a yoga class” on my to-do list for over a year and nothing seemed quite right.

Then Sarah invited me to join her on doing this Yoga Camp that was going to combine yoga practice with mindfulness and spirituality. Of course I was game because I could dig doing yoga that would be part of my spiritual practice and I could look as dumb as anything at home with no one to watch.

I am doing Day 30 tomorrow and I feel like it has been a fantastic experience for both my body ad my mind. I am more flexible now, a bit more balanced (it seems like my left side is weak which is understandable). And I feel stronger.

There is something very special about this yoga practice for me too. Adriene continually asks you to open your heart, lift your heart – I so needed this. Putting bodily action to what I was thinking in my mind and in my heart supercharged my outlook on my world.

And it seems as if the more I open up with my body, mind and spirit, the more the world is opening up to me. It is like my whole life and even the lives of those who are dearest to me are just full of continual affirmations of our goodness, our talents, and our desire to serve.

It feels so good to have so much YES happening. I am just humbled and grateful beyond belief.

And tonight, I take a yoga class with others. Day 29’s mantra was I love myself. I figure I do, and loving me means I do this for me regardless of what my form looks like. In fact, it will be fun to see how close I have come to the benchmark. And there will probably be lots of opportunity for me to laugh at myself.

Happy February, everyone. Let’s have fun this year. It is the Year of the Monkey and anyone who has been studying this, knows the Monkey is about having fun. Yes!

 

Coloring my life

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I drew this tree and colored it in this morning. I’ve drawing pine trees for a week now with less success. I like this one. I used my “pine green” crayon for the first time and it colored this tree in so nicely – and guess what?! I can still smell the scent of crayons even after I’ve finished the tree. Ahhh, that makes me happy!

Scientists and their research studies have “proven” that coloring is good for us. I mean look at the stores – the word is out. Coloring is the rage now! The smell of crayons helps lower blood pressure and the action of coloring is a sort of meditation – a way to get into relaxed state.

I’ve know this for many, many years – since I was a little girl actually. My favorite toys were my crayons and coloring books. I spent hours playing with color and paper. I packed them in a little case when we went on vacation. I do the same thing now. And if you saw my art supplies, it would be no surprise.

My drawings continue to be very simple….childlike to most adults. But I am not drawing for them. I am drawing for me and now I am drawing for Elly who seems to appreciate Nano’s suns and moons and stars.

Happy Holidays everyone!!!!

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A mindset experiment

The gray of winter has settled in around us here along the Missouri River. It has been raining steady for three days which means limited time to walk on the trail.

But, the indoor time has offered me more time to read and to really think about what I am reading.

I started reading The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks while I still lived in Wyoming. I just didn’t have the time or energy to devote to its content, so it has been on the “to-do” shelf for awhile.

I cracked it open on one of these rainy days and today’s chapter really has challenged me. The author poses the question about how we spend the majority of our time. He posits we often spend good chunks of time on worry, criticism and blame, squabbling, deflecting praise, or getting sick or hurt. Hendricks believes these behaviors keep us from reaching our full potential – they hold us back and oftentimes we allow them to because we are afraid of what living in our fullest glory might be like. We are afraid and so we waddle in all sorts of negativity.

I am really thinking about the implications of this in my life and in our world. What would happen if we quit thinking, verbalizing and acting in these ways as individuals and as a community – for a day, for a week, a month???

What would happen? I am going to start doing an experiment with myself in this regard. I’ll let you know how things go.  🙂

Breaking Camp

I have been on my personal adventure out here in Cheyenne for over a year now. It has been such a wonderful experience I really hate to see it end. But it is time to break camp. The joys of this part of my life’s journey are so sweet, so dear to my heart, it is very difficult to pull up and go home to Missouri. But thinking about returning to Marty and our home on the bluff brings tears to my eyes each and every time I let my mind wander there.

I can’t part without paying tribute to the people and experiences that have made this time so memorable to me. For one, I have treasured living so close to Beth. We have not lived close to each other in 14 years and we made up for missing those years together. We have shared so many wonderful talks, walks, and tender moments. It is really a gift to know that my daughters are my best friends and to live within six blocks of one of them has been a gift I will remember always.

And then there’s Elly. She brings a smile to my face everyday – she is a little package of joy this adventure has gifted me. I am so incredibly grateful to have developed a strong bond with her I know we will always share. It is terribly difficult to think I will not be seeing her almost every single day.

Then there’s the friendship I have developed with Chase. My goodness, what a nice person and what a wonderful father and husband he is. I love our chats and the times we share fixing dinner together. I am lucky to have had this time to get to know him as a good friend.

Of course a good deal of my time has been spent  helping people all over the state of Wyoming learn about the health insurance marketplace. At first the task seemed a bit daunting due to the fierce independence of these folks, and the political tenor of most of the people that live here. But, I was part of an incredible, dynamic team of people who pulled together and drove the miles, suffered the hours and the weather conditions to do the good work out here.

I feel like I have been part of a team that has gone into battle and has grown stronger and wiser from the challenges we faced, and the people we helped. Being part of this grass roots effort taught me so much. I have been in the trenches with my colleagues and I believe all of us have grown wiser from this work.  I know we will look back on this experience in years to come and know we were part of the birthing of something new and important in this country.

But so many signs are showing me it is time to move on, to break camp here. I look forward to stoking the home fires again with my sweet husband. And I know there are new opportunities, new people to meet, and new ways to serve.

I am smiling through my tears.

Bigger than Healthy Mom Healthy Me

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For the past few days I have been in a funk. I am not sure why….. I think I am very, very homesick. Shoot, I have been living out in Cheyenne for a year now and that is a long time to be living apart from my sweetie and the comforts of our beautiful home on the bluff.

One of my favorite things to raise my spirits is to walk and walk and walk. Luckily the weather out here has been very nice and conducive for long walks to the park alone or with Beth and Elly.  When I am by myself I am focusing on being content and with where I am right here and now. But honestly, I am finding the meditative walks aren’t enough.

Of course, I am journaling each morning and in the evening I am writing down my thoughts too. As I mentioned in my last blog, my journal is my counselor and one of my best friends.

The other night I had to smile at myself. I decided to record a gratitude list and I set out a rainbow of colored pens to write with. I got to thinking I am actually using every tool in the Healthy Mom Healthy Me tool box/workbook to help me to deal with my homesickness.

This is inspiring me to spread the word about the coping tools that make up that tool box. They are for everyone who is sad or anxious or even incredibly happy. Walking, visualizing what we want journaling, and gratitude lists are what can ground us in our hectic daily lives. And these daily exercises for our spirits can create or strengthen our mental well being. We are more at peace as we take care of ourselves in these simple ways.

I invite you to use the tools too. Just writing about them here is making my heart smile.

Love you all.